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A Social Interactionist Approach to the Victim-Offender Overlap

NCJ Number
Journal of Quanitative Criminology Volume: 36 Issue: 1 Pages: 153-181
Date Published
29 pages

Since a social interactionist perspective suggests that violent offenders are often victims of violence because of the way they behave and the way third parties behave during verbal disputes that lead to escalation, the current study examined the extent to which violent offenders are more likely to be victimized because they tend to engage in provocative actions, are less likely to engage in remedial actions, and more likely to be intoxicated, as well as because third-parties have a greater tendency to encourage aggressive behaviors during disputes involving offenders.


Analyses were based on an original situational-level survey of male inmates and men in the community regarding the characteristics of their verbal and violent interpersonal disputes. The study then determined the extent to which various dispute-related behaviors and third-party actions mediated the relationship between offending and two study outcomes, i.e., whether the dispute became violent and whether the antagonist was victimized. Using two measures of violent-offender status, the study found that violent actors were more likely to engage in verbal aggression during disputes, were less likely to engage in remedial actions, and were more likely to be intoxicated. Third parties were more likely to be present during the disputes of offenders, and they tended to encourage escalation. Combined, these situational processes mediated a substantial portion of the relationship between offending and violent victimization. The study concluded that the victim-offender overlap is partly due to the behaviors of offenders and third parties during disputes that significantly increase the risk of conflict escalation. 84 references (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020